In the old section of Calvary Cemetery, between Main Street and Calvary Creek, is a small bronze marker that indicates the burial location of John Anglin. The marker was put in by the American Legion and no other marker or stone is evident.

John Edward Anglin was born on Oct. 6, 1850, in Portland, Maine. Like many young boys who grew up on the coast of Maine, he went to sea at a very young age, serving as a cabin boy when he was only 14 years old. The unique story about John Anglin, however, is that the Civil War was going on when he was ready to go to sea, so he joined the Union Navy at 14 and was stationed on board the USS Pontoosuc.

The Pontoosuc was a double-ender, side-wheel gunboat. The ship was commissioned at Portland on May 10, 1864, with Lt. Commander George Stevens in command. During that summer, the Pontoosuc was busily in pursuit of a Confederate Raider, the Tallahassee. Unable to catch up with the Tallahassee, the Pontoosuc was then given escort duty in the fall. By mid-December, with John Anglin on board as a cabin boy, the Pontoosuc was assigned to blockade duties off of Wilmington, North Carolina.

John Edward Anglin, born on Oct. 6, 1850, in Portland. Anglin joined the Union Navy at 14 and was stationed on board the USS Pontoosuc. South Portland Historical Society photos

From Dec. 24, 1864, to Jan. 22, 1865, the USS Pontoosuc took part in the Battle of Fort Fisher. John Anglin received a Congressional Medal of Honor for his service during that battle.

His Medal of Honor citation reads, as follows: “The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Cabin Boy John Anglin, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving on board the U.S.S. Pontoosuc during the capture of Fort Fisher and Wilmington, North Carolina, 24 December 1864 to 22 January 1865. Carrying out his duties faithfully during the period, Cabin Boy Anglin was recommended for gallantry and skill and for his cool courage while under the fire of the enemy throughout these various actions.”

Anglin is one of the youngest to ever have received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

According to his descendants, Anglin returned to the Portland area after the war and worked as a ship captain here for the rest of his life. He captained several steam yachts, including the Clara Calista, the Siesta, and the Pinefore.

Do you have local memorabilia or photographs to share that show scenes from around South Portland in earlier years? Please contact South Portland Historical Society at 55 Bug Light Park, South Portland, ME 04106, by phone at 207-767-7299, or by email at [email protected] Thank you.

Kathryn Onos DiPhilippo is executive director of the South Portland Historical Society.

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